Choose Joy!

choose joy

As we have talked about this week, there are ways that we can bring that joy into our lives that we so crave.  We can focus on the Savior, we can serve others,  we can remember our worth and that we are so loved.  And we can make an intentional decision to have more joy in our lives.

I hope that as we have discussed joy this week that you have taken the time to record your feelings in a journal.  And if you don’t have a journal, please take the time to go out and find a cute little notebook that speaks to you. I promise it will bring you a little joy just doing that.

I have found that finding joy in daily living is totally a process.  Let’s face it, some days are just better than others.  This whole week I have been sick (head cold), all I have really wanted to do is lay down and sleep it all off.  But I have felt so strongly lately that I need to be more consistent in sharing my thoughts and feelings somewhere besides a pretty little journal.  Although I highly recommend that and I won’t stop writing in mine, it is also important to follow through on our promptings and impressions.  We are all here to help each other.

This blog is about finding hope and joy.  And while it happens to be filled with my personal experiences, I would love nothing more than to have guest writers come in and talk about experiences that they’ve had in finding joy in daily life.  If this is something that you’d be interested in please DM me.  Or I can just share your story anonymously, I can’t wait to hear from you.  Have a great weekend!  I’ll see you next week!

XO Wendy

 

The Joy of Womanhood

Hi there!  Glad to see you back.  I hope you are enjoying these little tidbits of motivation.

Today I want you to focus on you! Not in a selfish way but in a way that you begin to see yourself the way the Lord sees you.  For you are more precious than rubies. Proverbs 31

When I was a teenager in seminary, I remember hearing a story about an old janitor who was just beloved by all the students. And so one day the faculty decided to have him talk to the students.  The students were all super excited and anxious to hear what he had to say.  As the meeting opened and he was introduced he walked up to the pulpit and had to take a moment. He had his back turned to the students.  As he turned around he had tears in his eyes.  And then he spoke, “If only you could see what I see!”  He explained that for a brief moment as the teens were entering the room, he felt as though the veil had been lifted and he was able to see who they REALLY were.  Who God sees.  He said, “I felt as though I should kneel down and praise you, for you truly are royalty!”.

I have never forgotten that story.  I think it stuck with me to remind me of who I REALLY am.  A daughter of God, a child of royal birth.

In this world that is so full of deceit and filthiness.  Greed and selfishness. We would do good to take a moment at the beginning of each day to look in the mirror and see ourselves the way He sees us!  And if you’re struggling with seeing that person.  Open up Proverbs to Chapter 31 and be reminded of your divinity.

The below quote is one that I came across in a talk from October 2000 General Conference.  If you’d like to read the whole talk you can find it here.

I hope that today you will find joy in your divinity and peace in knowing that you are a child of God who loves you dearly.  Choose to live in joy today.

XO Wendy

What does joy mean to you?

I am so happy to let you know that I am going to try something new with my blog.  And if all goes well with it and I can keep up, lol, it could work into even more exciting and fun things.  So starting today I will be posting daily, yes daily.  This will be your little daily dose of spiritual and/or motivational content.  Each day I will focus on various scriptures, quotes, motivational talks, etc.  It shouldn’t take you more than 3-7 minutes to read.  This one may be a bit longer because I want to explain why I am doing this.  I would love to have your feedback on things that you would like help with.  Or things that you have questions about that you would like me to study and share.  Or maybe things that I have posted in the past that you would like more of.  And then we will just walk this path together and hopefully it leads us all to somewhere great!

As you may know if you’ve followed me long enough, I LOVE journals!  I have several.  Gratitude journals, scripture journals, personal journals,  mental health journey journals, my favorite-things-I’ve-come-across-that-I-want-to-remember journals.

The funny thing is that they each have their purpose.  But right now they pile up in my home and no one gets to read them.  I really think that they can be of benefit to more than just me.

So on to today and this week’s ponderings. JOY!

JOY!

It’s so mysterious the way the Lord works.  I am continually amazed at how He threads and weaves patterns into our lives and increases our faith by the experiences that we are allowed to have. As I have been preparing my upcoming blogs this past week (because I have to be at least a few days ahead :)), and have been studying joy, I have had placed in my path too many coincidences to count as coincidences.  I have been shown, taught, or filled with joy through various avenues.  Whether it be through a quote or scripture that I have come across on social media etc., an act of service, or a talk that someone gave in church. Even in a book that was recommended  to others through a story on Instagram.  I love to see the Lord working in my life and in others.  He truly wants us to have this joy that feels our souls even in times of trial and difficulty.  I hope that you can find some of that joy today!

Something you should also know about me is that I am a thinker and a ponderer and a lover of learning, and I ask God a lot of questions.  What I know is that He always finds a way to give me the answers.  Sometimes they come soon and sometimes they take longer.  And to be honest, there are some that I am still waiting on the answers.  But here’s the thing, I KNOW that God loves me and I KNOW that He loves you too.  And if you ask, He has promised that you will receive.

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Doctrine and Covenants 88:63

He wants the best for us He wants us to be happy and above that He wants us to have JOY!  He wants to bless us and He will meet us where we are and show us the way.

JOY!  There is a difference between happiness and joy.  I want you to ask yourself, what makes joy different than happiness for you?

Ponder on that, and today I want to share a story that comes from the Book of Mormon.  I’m not going to share the whole story here because I want you to go and read all of Alma 26 it is SO good!

This is the story of Ammon and his brethren who went to preach to the lamanites and converted many souls to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Ammon is expressing the joy he feels.   He states in  26:8. Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever. 

Here Ammon is expressing his joy for the conversion of many of the Lamanites.  In  fact he is so bold in his joy that his brother chastises him for boasting.  Ammon explains in V.11-12

11 … I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. 

and then further down in v. 36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people. 

Yes my friends, we have an awesome God who can bring so much joy!  He is mindful of our daily struggles but if we put our focus and trust in Him we can find that kind of joy.

I also did a little research on Joy which we will get more into as the week progresses.  However, if you look joy up in the dictionary it says that it is an emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.  Some synonyms for joy are; bliss, comfort, satisfaction, wonder, gladness, solace, treasure, elation, glee, delight, cheer, gaiety, gratification.  And these are just a few.

I asked my husband what he thought the difference was between joy and happiness, he explained that joy is so much more!  It envelops you, it’s encompassing, it pushes everything else away and consumes you in the most positive way.  I loved that so much!  In short, happiness is fleeting, an experience that comes and goes.  But joy is eternal, everlasting.

I have experienced that true unfiltered joy when I had each of my babies. There is just nothing like that feeling of being so joyful that you feel like you might burst!  Holding that miracle in your arms for the first time, snuggling that tiny nose.  And counting all 10 fingers and toes.  Having them snuggle into your chest and fall asleep.  And oh the smell of a newborn baby!  The feeling, that bond, is like nothing else in this world and it goes on and on as they grow, (even when they sometimes drive you crazy, haha).

There are a lot of other ways and times that joy is developed and grows and we’ll talk about it a lot more this week.   As you go about your day, ask yourself what brings me true joy, the kind that goes on and on?  And then take a minute to record it somewhere… maybe in a new pretty journal 😉 so you can read about that experience next time you are having a down day.  That’s it for today!  Make it a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow!

XO Wendy

Things aren’t always as they seem.

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Have you ever looked at someone that you admire and thought, geez, I wish I could be more like her/him.  They have it all, a great job, great family, great spouse,  their kids are perfect, they always seem happy.  And look at that home…. it’s ALWAYS clean.  And so and so on.

You think to yourself, I can’t even keep the laundry folded (or maybe even washed) and dinner on the table. Wait, I can’t even fix dinner because I haven’t had any time to go the store in the last couple of weeks.  And pretty soon you’ve talked yourself into such a personal pity party that you’re fighting with your imperfect kids.  And you’re short with your husband and friends.  You may be fuming about work projects or situations where you just felt that things were dumped on you, or just not fair.

Does any of that sound familiar to you?  Me too!  We’re so good at finding all of our flaws and imperfections and comparing them to the strengths of others whom you admire.  But the truth is, things aren’t always as they seem!  In fact rarely are they as they look on the outside.  EVERYBODY (at least in my past 51 years of experience) is going through something hard.  And to a certain degree, we all try to put on the face that nothing is wrong everything is just rosy!  It’s time for us to get real, and quit the fake.  That is quite the buzz word at the moment isn’t it?  Just quit the fake, right? But it’s not really that easy to do.

Let me ask you a couple of questions that I really want you to ponder.  Really ponder.

1.What is it about my life that is sooo horrible that I can’t help but look at others and want what they have?  And

2. What good is there in my life right now that others might see as optimal (the blessings you have in your life)?

Sometimes we are so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to be grateful and celebrate the things that we do have!

I personally think that is why it is so important to keep some sort of daily gratitude journal!  It reminds you to be aware and mindful of all the little things that are good in your life.  It helps you to focus on the positives.

One of the the things in my own life that I could really make into a horrible thing, I can make it a negative or a positive, is the fact that I have Bipolar disorder.  It would be very easy for me to look at all the negative that comes along with this diagnosis.  And it does get the best of me at times.  But one of the ways that I try to make it into a positive is to try and help others who may be struggling with similar issues.  I am always amazed that just by sharing what I go through, it always touches someone in some way.  Sometimes it is in a big way and other times it is as small as them recognizing that they are not alone.  They don’t always reach out and let me know, but when they do, it always makes me feel like what I am struggling with is a blessing that I can use to help others in their own lives.

And lastly, looking at and focusing on the good in your life is a practice that is so easy to pick up and really doesn’t take much.  Try recording just 3 things daily that are good in your life that day, that moment.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Sometimes for me it is just the fact that I am here on this Earth living another day!

So with that said, go out and look for the good today!  Remember that things aren’t always as they seem when viewing what others are putting out there.  And know that you are never alone!  I see you!

 

5 Habits to adopt for good mental health

In the last post I promised that in the next one I would be sharing the 5 things that I try to do EVERY day, that I have found really help a lot when trying to balance and maintain good mental health.  This is not meant to replace medication (if needed) or other forms of therapy.  And if you think you may be suffering from depression or other mental illnesses, I highly recommend seeing a Psychiatrist to get an accurate diagnosis and help you formulate a good plan of action.

This is certainly not just for those who suffer with mental illnesses.  These habits are great habits to adopt for anyone who wants to improve their physical, mental and emotional state. So please don’t click off now, I promise this will be worth it.

So let’s just jump right in! I am going to go in specific order of importance as they apply to me and my mental health, but I’m sure it may be completely different for others.

1. SLEEP- At least 6-8 hours of good solid sleep per night.  It might seem crazy that I put this as the number one habit to adopt, but it is so so important!  Sleep is when your body recovers, rejuvenates and repairs itself. If your not getting enough, your body can’t function as it properly should.  Besides the obvious negativities like poor focus, fatigue and lack of concentration, poor sleep is linked to overeating, a greater risk for inflammation, depression, a greater risk of heart disease and stroke and it affects your emotions and social interactions.  It also contributes to lower glucose metabolism and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and those are just a few of the negative effects.  So it makes so much sense to give your body what it needs so that it can function as efficiently as possible.

Everyone is different and requires different amounts to  be healthy but at least 6-8 hours per night seems to be a sweet spot for most people.  There are so many benefits too. It can improve concentration and productivity, improve athletic performance. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.  And it can improve immune system functions among many other benefits.  For me it is paramount in keeping my mental health balanced and stable. Also one last word of advice for sleep is that if you find that you have lost sleep for a few days, try to catch a few extra winks as quickly as you possibly can.  Sleep deprivation is a breeding ground for mania or manic episodes.

2. MOVE. YOUR. BODY.- At least 30 minutes daily of some form of movement.  I notice a significant drop in my mood within a couple of days of not working out.  It’s really kind of scary for me because I can feel depression settle in almost like a big black storm cloud if I go more than a few days without my regular workouts.  I personally do my workouts at home so I don’t have to get dressed up and wear makeup (cause I don’t go anywhere without makeup, haha), or worry about others critiquing what I’m doing. Plus it saves money on babysitters and gym memberships.  I have been working out consistently for over 25 years and have learned specific workouts that seem to have a greater positive effect for me.  Over the years I have collected quite a variety of videos, and equipment to keep me from getting bored doing the same workouts.

But whatever works for YOU is great!  As long as you are moving your body regularly.  Some people love the gym.  Some love to get outside and run or hike, and some enjoy the calming effects of a good yoga session.  It doesn’t really matter what, where, or how you move.  Just move and get those endorphins flowing!  Not only does it benefit your mental and emotional health, it makes you look and feel better.  And who can’t appreciate that?

3. HYDRATE- Drink at least half your body weight a day in water.  I’ve been doing this for many years now and it might seem funny that I rated this more important than a healthy diet (spoiler alert, lol).  And this is on purpose their are so many benefits to being properly hydrated.  Here are just a few:  Weight loss and good skin elasticity.  Hello!  Who doesn’t want to be more fit and have less wrinkles?  (I attribute looking as young as I do at 50 to drinking a lot of water every day for the past 20 something years). Muscle efficiency, mood balancer (yes!), temperature control, memory function, and joint lubrication.  It flushes out the toxins that build up in our bodies creating good bowel function.  It aids digestion and creates better immune health.  It’s just a good solid healthy habit to adopt.

4. Eating a Healthy Diet. – Try and stay away from sugary processed foods.  And, I’m sorry for this one but, ABSOLUTELY no caffeine. Disclaimer, this is what I have found that works for me.  I am not a Dr. so definitely consult your physician on the best diet for you and your body type.

I have personally found that cutting back on carbohydrates and cutting out sugary foods and drinks does wonders for my mental state.  I know when I’ve gone to far with the trips to the ice cream store, because I start feeling lethargic, run down, lacking on focus and concentration and it’s easy for depression to set in.  And as for caffeine, this was a hard line that my Dr. set with me first thing!  I wasn’t thrilled about it for sure!  But it has had a huge effect on keeping me out of a state of mania.  When I’m entering a manic state of mind it feels almost like I’ve had a couple of cups of coffee or shot of caffeine.  So it makes sense that this would be something important to implement.

I’m not going too far down this road because it can be a loaded topic.  There are many options when it comes to healthy eating and different diet plans.  If you want more info on what I DO eat, please DM me and I’d be happy to chat about it.  Again this is what works for me.  The side benefits are many and your brain and body will love you for it.

5. CUTTING DOWN ON HIGH PRESSURE STRESS- Stress affects your body, from your brain to your digestive system!  This habit is probably the hardest one to maintain for most people.  We have so many things going on in our lives from work and family to school, and outside activities.  And that’s just naming a few.  These are just some of the many ways that stress can affect us negatively.  Headaches, muscle tension, chest palpitations, feelings of depression, ravenous hunger, and the list goes on. I have learned over the years that a good practice to adopt is that it’s OK to say ‘no’.  Don’t feel like you have to do all and be all just because you feel like everyone else is doing it.  Or that you just won’t measure up if you don’t.  Your good health is more important than anything else.  Even if it’s something you feel is really important! If you feel your body ramping up or getting anxious, it’s important to follow those signs it’s giving out.  If you are overwhelmed and over stressed to the max and you don’t heed the warning signs, your body will do a mental re-boot without your permission.  Trust me I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.  Bottom line, down time is important and good for your body.

So that is a brief run down of the 5 habits that I promised to share with you.  I thought of at least 5 more that can be helpful as I was writing but I’ll save that for a later post.  Just one last final disclaimer:  Don’t just take my word for it.  If you are having warning signs, do yourself a favor and visit with your Dr.  You only have one body.  It might have come damaged somewhat, but there are still things you can do to keep it as healthy as possible.

p.s.  Not one of these habits is a fail safe.  You can’t just be one and done.  Of course each one is very beneficial and if you can’t do them all, start by adapting one at a time.  But they definitely work better in combination with each other.

If you made it this far, I hoped it helped and please share with anyone you think this might help. XO Wendy

 

 

Look for the light!

Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light.  Who am I?  Where am I going?  What is my mission?  Do I even have a mission? Do I matter?  What is my purpose in this life?  These are  questions that we ask ourselves in times of darkness.  Or when we are really struggling to find the light.  The light of Christ.  The light within ourselves.  The light of others.  So how do we answer the tough questions?  How do we find the light?

I would like to say there is an easy answer! And here is exactly where you go to find it!  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) we have to do the work to find the answers to those questions.  And it’s HARD work!  Many of us may not be willing to put in that kind of work to find the answers to these, and many other questions that plague us.  Many more will find the easy way out by placing the responsibility on others to change or conform to what their belief is.  I guess some could argue that that is what I am doing.   But what I am doing, is trying to get you to look at your life and what questions you have and then do the HARD work to find the answers to those questions.  Find out for yourself!

When I wrote What Being Away from the Church Taught Me, I was in the mind frame that if there was someone else going through what I went through and they could be helped by it, then it was worth sharing.  I still feel that way and I have had many experiences that have led me to believe that we all have something to share that will help each other on this path in life.  The struggle is real, and its HARD!  But we don’t have to do this life alone.  In fact we are not meant to.  Although there are some things that we do have to do alone, like finding the answers to the questions that we struggle with.  What I am asking you to do is: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5

Sometimes, when we do this, we are directed into the path of others that can help us find those answers.  In fact, many times people will be placed in our path to help us open doors and find new and better ways of looking at our questions.  A new perspective can open our minds and fill us with knowledge that we hadn’t previously considered.   We will find that there are new ways of finding the answers to those questions.  We are never completely alone in our quest!

I hear and read all the time that my church is full of judgement, and self righteous people that don’t understand that what they are saying or the way that they treat people is keeping them from coming back to church or joining the church to begin with.  Believe me when I say that there was a time when I felt that way myself.  I remember at one point (maybe on several occasions) saying “Shouldn’t the people be a reflection of the Church?  And if that is what the Church is then I don’t want to be a part of it.”,  But you know what that was?  It was an excuse.  It was an excuse for me to take the easy road.  Why?  Because the other road is much HARDER!  It takes effort and grit to really ask the tough questions and then find a way to get answers.

I’m not saying that there is not judgement in the church, there is plenty of it… way too much, in my opinion.  I have often said, I believe that will be the first question we get asked when we face Christ, “Did you love others, as I have loved you?”  For this is the second great commandment:

 “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matt. 22:39; see also Gal. 5:14).

BUT….. That does not mean that we can let the judgement of others keep us from finding the light. Or, keep us from doing the work to find the answers for ourselves to the questions that we have.   We have to dig deep!  We have to take responsibility for our own life.  It’s the only way to truly find peace and happiness on this Earth.

In the Bible,  James 1:5-6 It reads:  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

So there is our answer!  That is how we can find the answers to the seemingly impossible questions.  God will not let us down!  But we need to do the work!  Praying once may not do it.  Praying for an answer a 100 times may not do it.   But if you continue to pray, study, ponder, search, it will happen!  I can promise you this because it’s happened to me. And many people that I know and love.

Certainly, God is not just going to pour down answers upon your head of everything you’ve ever questioned.  You have to do the HARD work!  But with each question, that you use this above process to find answers with, I promise you, it will work!

The other part that often gets overlooked is that we have to have intent to do something with the answer that we’ve been given.  We have to have “faith unwavering”! Knowledge always comes with responsibility.  We have to acknowledge that when we find the answer, we will do something with it.  Faith precedes action! We can’t just sit back, tap our heads, and say hmmm.  Sometimes it requires a major lifestyle change.  Or an extreme reversal in thought process. So the HARD work comes in again here!

It is not easy!  I’ll say that a hundred times because it’s true, it’s not easy!  Especially when sometimes it feels as though we are just trying to keep our heads above the water to keep from drowning in all the information that is thrown at us from every angle.  But if we are diligent in working towards finding the answers, doors will be opened, hearts will be changed and miracles can happen in our lives!

The Savior teaches that He is the light that “enlighteneth your eyes,” “quickeneth your understandings,” and “giveth life to all things.” The Light of Christ will help us see ourselves and others through the Savior’s eyes.

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Russell M. Nelson, said “… the spirit that dwells within each of us can be enriched with enthusiasm and enlightened by the Almighty. The process of spiritual growth is revealed in the scriptures: “Intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; … [and] light cleaveth unto light. ”  That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 ,also Doctrine and Covenants 88:40)

I can’t imagine what truths await us if we put in the HARD work to find our answers.  And I hope that with those answers comes a greater determination to move forward, onward and upward.  We owe it to ourselves to take action!  He loves us and wants us to succeed!  Of that I am confident!

 

 

 

 

Soul Survivor

It has been several months since I have written.  Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because the words just haven’t been there.   For weeks and weeks, the words just would not come. I rely heavily upon the Lord to open my mind so that I can write what HE wants to sink deep into the souls of those who read it.  So imagine my excitement when the words started to come again.  Hopefully I can do them justice.

The most precious part of ourselves is our very soul.  It’s what we were before we came here and what we will be after we leave.  It is what we believe (as Mormons) gives life to the body.  The  very essence of who we are.  So it makes complete sense that we are in a war between good and evil for our very souls.  God wants our souls to become enlightened, stronger, healthier, full of love, more serviceable, ultimately more like Him.  While Satan wants to destroy our souls, demoralize, demonize, and demolish it.  He wants us to be fearful and full of hate!  What a contrast that is.

But the great characteristic of we humans is that we are “survivors”!  And in this war of worlds, we are “soul survivors”! Today I want to talk about how we can steer clear of Satan’s traps that he sets for us.  I want you to re-examine your life and make sure that your SOULS are surviving the onslaught of his evil.

Here are 5 ways (in no particular order)  that Satan works to capture our souls.  Hopefully if you have fallen into some of these traps, this will help you realize it and get back on God’s path, safe and sound so you can be a “soul survior”.  🙂

1. Confusion and Contention- All you have to do is open your facebook page or watch the daily news to be bombarded by these two friends.  The political, religious, and other negative debates that happen online are among the most damaging weapons to our soul.  Sometimes we become so consumed with being right that we begin see things less clearly.  Even if it’s wrong, it becomes “right” in our mind.  If Satan can get us to argue amongst one another, in our homes, workplaces, on social media, or even in our churches, then the Spirit can not reside there.   If we participate in this  practice we our opening up ourselves to this trap (or flaxen cord, if you will).

Elder Kim B. Clark of the seventy said, “Our time is a dangerous time—a time of great evil and temptation, a time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, the Lord’s prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, has called us to rescue the wounded in spirit, to stand for truth with courage, and to build the kingdom of God. Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts.”

I encourage you to take a look at the words and discussions that you are having.  Check to make sure they are positive and uplifting in every way.  There is no better way to remain on the Lord’s side than to use your words wisely and with great care.  They are something that we can’t take back once they are said. So be wise.

2. Distraction- A Distraction is something that takes away from what matters most in our lives, our relationships with God and our families and friends.  Recently, in my church, our prophet President Russell M. Nelson, spoke to teenagers ages 12-18 about the dangers of distractions.  Mainly social media distractions.  He recommended that we “take a break from fake”.  For 7 days he asked us to get off of social media and see what we find in our lives that might be different.  But it’s not just social media that distracts us and sets us up for Satan to work on our souls.  It can be work, our phones, the internet, well meaning events that take time away from our families and what matters most.  This idea of distractions has become such an easy trap for Satan to ensnare us with.  If he can get us to look the other way and become distracted by “shiny objects” then he is keeping us from looking at and hearing what is most important.  This also can muffle the Spirit from teaching and guiding us in the right direction.  When we are distracted, we are not paying attention.  And when we are not paying attention, Satan can sneak into our lives and set his trap.

King Benjamin tells us that we should hearken unto the word of the Lord. He tells us, “open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.” (Mosiah 2:9.) Sometimes I  become so distracted by the world that I do not hear.  Do you ever find yourself in that spot?  Let’s try harder to slow down, look around, and  pay attention to the things that really matter. The Spirit can work more effectively in our lives when we are not distracted by less important matters.  It can mentor and teach and help us along our way in this journey to win our souls.

3. Busyness- Sometimes we become so busy and stressed out that it feels as if we are in a vortex being dragged down and down to the gulf of misery and woe.  Haha, I know that seems so depressing.

But it’s true, when stress and busyness become a burden on us, it can literally start to affect our health and well being.  We can make ourselves physically sick trying to “do it all”.  And really where does this come from? It is another little trap that Satan uses, and quite effectively I might add.   We can look at any image on magazines or in movies, or on our phones.  We are constantly bombarded with “superwomen and men” who seem to be “doing it all”.  But the sad thing is, that it really is mostly fake.  You get to see the one thing in their life that is going really good at the moment.  We don’t see the stress, the anguish, the despair that is happening behind the scenes.  We just want to be like them!  We have all heard this compared to holding spinning plates in the air.  We keep adding one more thing (plate) to our “to do” list until our spinning plates become so burdensome that we soon end up dropping them all.  We need to slow down… SLOW DOWN… Learn to say no when it’s too much.  Turn off the switches that are making us think that we need to do one more thing. It’s ok to be yourself and not try to do it all.  In fact, that is what God wants for our precious souls.  Calmness, peacefulness and love to envelope us, our souls are so tender and important to Him.  We should treat them with great care.

4. Deception- In our shifting and changing world things are not always what they appear to be.  Appearances can be deceptive and destructive. And unfortunately Satan has been at this game for over 1000 years.  He seems to have a bit of an advantage on us.  I mean, most of us have only been around for less than 100 ;).  But again, we have the Lord on our side.  We have the Holy Spirit to guide us if we are open and listening for it.  But that doesn’t take away the fact that deception is real.  And it can be scary.

Have you ever been in boat on a completely calm lake and then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the wind kicks up and the waves become dangerously large?  I have and it’s very, very scary.  We were at Lake Powell one year with my little family, enjoying a sunny day out on the boat.  The storm started to kick up and then our boat stalled.  It wouldn’t start, no matter how hard we tried.  We were floating in the lake that was quickly becoming rougher and scarier.  What were we we to do?   Of course we said some pretty strong prayers and tears were shed.  But thankfully, in that situation, we had life jackets and others nearby who came to the rescue when all seemed lost.  They threw out a rope and towed us to safety.

Likewise, in our lives we are attracted to what seems to be calm and serene at the time.  But then once we jump in, we find that the waves are too much for our tender souls to take on.   When we find that we have been deceived in some way, we can reach out for our “life jackets”, we can look to our leaders as our guides.  We can follow what the Prophet said.  We can stay on the covenant path.  Most importantly, we can seek the Lord in honest prayer to help guide us in the right direction.  If we have lost our way, or find ourselves somewhere different than we had planned to be, we need only look up!  God will throw us a rope, He will tow us back to safety.  Obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel are our life jackets.  We must use them to be a “soul Survivor”!

5. Comparison- Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment!” I love that quote because it really defines how important it is to guard our souls.  Remember our soul is the very essence of who we are!

Comparison is such an easy trap to fall into.  We all want to be loved, admired, and looked up to.  But doing it at the cost of losing our identity or who we really are, can bring great damage to our souls.  I have seen it happen to myself and others when we get caught up in trying to be like someone we admire.  We may start to dress, talk, and act differently than what we normally do.  Our very core values may begin to shift.

Now, I’m not saying that we can’t improve ourselves. We should always strive to be moving in an upward direction, stretching ourselves to reach toward our full potential.  But the real trap comes when we change ourselves to match what some one else is doing.  I have seen many people change their whole value system as they try to emulate someone.   And it happens very slowly and almost unnoticeably.  Then they start to become examples to others who are not seeing them for who they truly are.

Here is another way that I would encourage us to take a good strong look at what we are putting out there for the world to see.  Is it truly who we are?  Does it promote our own value system or someone else’s?  Are we trapped in an identity that we no longer identify with?  These are some really tough questions, but also very important in evaluating where you are at and where you want to be.  And also what type of role model you want to be for others. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare and compete, everyone will respect you!  And your soul will survive and thrive!  God loves our sweet souls so much!  He is fighting this war for our souls, right along side us.  But we must be aware of the traps that are meant to ensnare and capture our very souls.

**I want you to know that in all honesty, the only way that I can speak on these things is because I have, at times, fallen victim to them.  I have found myself in all 5 of these situations.  It is only through honest and thorough examination of ones self that we can reverse our direction and get back on the path towards God.  Sometimes it’s just a mere meander off the path and we pause for a moment and then turn back and we are right back on the path in no time.  But sometimes it can be a fork that we took in the complete wrong direction.  However, all is not lost.  God is on our side in this war of souls.  He is doing everything that He can to help guide us and lead us safely back to the right path.  He is sending angels our way, I know that with all my heart. Our very souls depend on it! One of my very favorite scriptures comes from the Doctrine and Covenants section 84:88  And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

We CAN do this life!   And we CAN do it GREAT and BIG and WONDERFUL!  We CAN be “soul survivors”!  I know it and God knows it!  You are His and He loves you.  Let’s take great care of our tender souls!

#holdtotherod #soulsurvivors  #lovewhoyouare